Late night partiers on a stretch of South Beach will not be able keep the alcohol flowing until 5 a.m. at nightclubs.
Last call is moving up by three hours - at least for now. By a 4-3 vote on May 12th, the Miami Beach city commission decided alcohol has to be consumed by 2 a.m. at the entertainment district clubs, effective May 22nd.
"At some point, it has become obvious to all of us that an entertainment-only district has given us something we just can’t control," Mayor Dan Gelber said of the affected area on Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue between 5th and 16th streets.
Even those who wanted alcohol to continue flowing until 5 a.m., like some owners of the about 50 businesses affected, saw there were problems in the area. They just differed on the cause.
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In recent years "it went haywire," said David Wallack, owner of Mango's Tropical Cafe. 'People are drinking with open containers, unregulated, unmolested by the police. There is no enforcement all over the street."
But he and other bar owners opposed the new 2 a.m. cut-off.
"Going into prohibition is not the answer," Wallack told commissioners. "Regulate. You have the power to regulate, but don’t just annihilate."
Commissioner Mickey Steinberg, the key swing vote on the issue, secured a pledge from Gelber and others that they would vote to include a referendum on the matter for the November 2021 election.
If voters reverse their decision, the 5 a.m. cutoff would be restored on December 8.
On Monday, the Clevelander filed a lawsuit, stating Miami Beach has “declared war” on the entertainment district.
The company released this statement saying in part, “Over the past year, the Clevelander has attempted to work cooperatively with the City of Miami Beach to resolve its differences. Unfortunately, the City has refused to cooperate or act in a reasonable manner.”
An attorney for Miami Beach fired back against the hotel with this statement: “The City has not yet been served with this lawsuit, but looks forward to evaluating and addressing the allegations of the complaint once the plaintiff properly serves the City in compliance with Florida law.”
The earlier cutoff time comes as the city hosts the 20th annual South Beach Wine and Food Festival this weekend, with thousands of visitors expected in the area for various events.